Whether you’re a blogger, a budding novelist, a freelance graphic designer, or a small business owner, YouTube is one of the most powerful places to build a platform for your brand.
It’s also one that many people shy away from because it looks difficult, and if we’re being honest, a little bit scary. However, once you’ve taken the plunge, you’ll soon see that it’s easy to slip into a comfortable groove with YouTube, uploading regular content, growing your audience, and entertaining yourself at the same time.
If you need an extra push to convince you to get started, consider these statistics (source: Hootsuite):
- YouTube is the second most visited site in the world (with Google taking out the top position).
- 73% of American adults use YouTube (beating Facebook at 69% and Instagram at 37%).
- For the 15-25-year-old age bracket, it’s even higher with 81% regularly using the platform.
- Between 2017 and 2018, watch time for videos on product recommendations doubled, and that figure continues to rise.
- Casual viewers are shifting to loyal fans, with repeat engagement up 70% between 2017 and 2018.
So, how do you start a successful YouTube channel?
First up, you’ll need a Google account. YouTube is owned by Google, so it’s one of a large suite of platforms you’ll be able to use with the one login.
You can access YouTube with your personal or business Google account – whichever you prefer. Either, way, you’ll be setting up a branded channel.
How to create a brand channel on YouTube
By creating a brand account, you’ll be better able to customize your channel, and will also be able to grant access to team members (even if you’re working solo at the moment, this feature is important as you’ll want to have scope for expansion in the future).
Once you’ve logged into YouTube with your Google account details, go to the channel switcher and then click “create a new channel.”
Follow the prompts to create your brand channel, and add your logo and a relevant cover image. If you already have your own website and social media channels set up, then this should be quick and easy as it’s best to carry across the same visual elements to ensure your visitors have a consistent experience across all your platforms.
With your brand account setup, you’ll be able to access YouTube’s analytics. Be sure to bookmark that link as this is where you’ll get your insight into who’s watching, and what kind of content is getting the most views.
As you’ll learn in the sections below, YouTube will give you the best results if you’re willing to experiment a bit with your content – always staying on-brand, but being open to adjusting your approach until you find a groove that resonates with your target market. Without the platform’s analytics, you’ll be attempting to do this blind (not a wise decision!).
Make the banner on your YouTube channel interactive
Once you’ve got your beautiful, branded artwork displayed on your channel, it’s time to make it a bit more fancy. Did you know you can add links to this banner, directing visitors to your website and social media channels?
Here’s how to do it:
- From your main channel dashboard, click “Customize Channel.”
- Click “About,” scroll down, then click on “Links.”
- If you click on the pencil icon, this will allow you to enter links that will pop up on the banner of your YouTube channel.
- Keep your links to a minimum, but do include your website and a social media channel or two.
- YouTube will automatically add the appropriate icons for any social media platforms you add links to (how cool is that?).
Don’t skimp on the details
Be thorough in filling out all the possible details for your brand’s YouTube channel. Though many big creators have little to no information in their “About” tab, and some just chuck in a few links, the smartest brands understand that this is another opportunity to get some good SEO going.
Comedy Central’s YouTube page offers an excellent example of this:
YouTube brand channel complete: new level unlocked!
With these steps taken, your platform is ready for content. As with all new levels, this means the difficulty gets a little higher. However, new challenges are all part of the fun, right?
Depending on the nature of your business and the type of content you wish to create, you can record your videos using a digital camera, your smartphone, or screen capturing software.
Regardless of where and how you’re filming, you’ll need editing software to bring your work together and add the professional touches that will make your brand shine.
Some excellent choices include:
- Windows Movie Maker – excellent for PC users who aren’t ready to pay for editing software.
- iMovie – for Mac users who don’t want to pay for any software at this stage.
- Wondershare Filmora – a budget option that is well worth the price. You’ll get access to a massive range of templates, including customizable animated intros and title cards. The software is intuitive and easy to use, creating high-quality videos. However, you need to make sure your computer has enough power for rendering (old laptops can overheat).
- Final Cut Pro – the best of the best for Mac users. This is as professional as it gets, but it comes at a price-point that matches its quality. This software has even been used in Hollywood productions, so it’s a worthy investment if you have the money to spare and your content lends itself to high production quality. If you’re just making simple top-10 lists or how-to guides, it will probably be overkill.
- Pinnace Studio – the closest thing to Final Cut Pro for those on a Windows operating system. Though it’s a lot cheaper than Final Cut Pro, many user reviews report that it crashes on them occasionally, meaning you have to become compulsive about saving your projects!
From the editing suite to YouTube
This is the point at which many new creators get stuck. They don’t want to publish their first video until it is absolutely perfect. However, this is counterproductive because the best way to discover whether your content is going to hit home with your target market is to put it out there and get feedback.
Your first videos don’t have to be groundbreaking. What’s important is that you start putting out content, sharing it, getting feedback, learning as you go, and tweaking your approach.
Remember, you can always delete older videos if you end up experimenting a lot and finding a successful approach that’s vastly different from the way you started out. What you can’t do is understand whether your ideas are working without sharing them with the world!
So, put your perfectionism aside, be brave, and upload. To do this, all you need to do is log in to your YouTube account and hit the little video icon in the top right-hand corner of the page.
Then it’s simply a matter of waiting for your rendered video to upload and following all the prompts regarding your description, thumbnail, and other elements. When writing your descriptions, remember to follow the same SEO practices you use on your website and social media channels.
Build your content steadily
Though some creators get away with being sporadic on YouTube, this is not the ideal way to build your following. Remember that statistic from the introduction to this article – engagement went up 70% between 2017 and 2018 alone. People are connecting with creators, subscribing, and enjoying reliable new content every week.
The trend towards long-term engagement is ideal for boosting your brand as it allows you to make genuine connections with people, establish trust and loyalty, and always be in their minds, regardless of what stage of the buying cycle they’re in. This increases the chance that, when they’re ready for the products or services you sell or recommend, your brand will be the first one they think of.
If you’re building your YouTube channel as an author or artist platform, then creating regular content is your best strategy for gaining subscribers and the kind of engagement levels that impress agents, publishers, and gallery owners.
Curate your YouTube content
As your content grows, it becomes necessary to organize it so that new visitors can easily access the videos they’re interested in. It’s worth taking some time to explore the YouTube channels of other creators working in a similar niche.
You’ll see that they take advantage of YouTube’s tools to create playlists that organize their content in a coherent manner.
To give you an idea of how this looks, here’s Australian comedian Neel Kolhatkar’s YouTube Channel:
Some valuable upgrades for your YouTube channel
Once you’ve got your content flowing, here are a few extras you may wish to consider adding to your channel.
Do you really need an intro video for your YouTube channel?
You may have noticed some YouTube channels have a video that auto-plays when you hit their main page. Creators will usually do one of two things with this. They’ll make a channel introduction video, or they’ll play their most recent upload.
Have a browse through a few different YouTube channels, see what people are doing, and gauge how you feel about it. Some users hate the intrusiveness of these videos and will immediately pause it while they explore the channel. Others love to hear the creator introduce themselves.
Ultimately, what you do here will come down to your personal preferences and those of your target market. If you find these videos annoying, don’t add one. If you appreciate them, then make your own and see how it flies with your subscribers.
Channel keywords are a valuable addition to your YouTube channel
While the intro video is more a matter of taste, channel keywords will definitely help you boost your channel’s chances of getting seen by a wider audience.
Here’s how to add them:
- Click your profile icon in the top right-hand part of the screen.
- Select “YouTube Studio” from the menu.
- Hit the “Settings” button in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen.
- Select “Channel” from the menu in the pop-up box.
- In the “Basic Info” tab, you can add your channel keywords. Though it’s tempting to fill this box with anything even tangentially related to your subject matter, it’s important to avoid spamming and focus on keywords that genuinely relate to your content.
While you’re in this pop-up menu, go to the “Advanced Settings” tab, scroll down and click on the “Advanced channel settings” link. This will open a new tab with a new array of settings.
Scroll down and double check that you have channel recommendations switched on.
Getting your account verified
This step allows you to access some pretty desirable features. You’ll be able to upload longer videos and create your own custom-designed thumbnails.
Here are the steps required to get your YouTube channel verified:
- Head over to YouTube’s channel verification page.
- Select your country and your preferred method for receiving your verification code.
- Add your phone number and wait for the code.
- Once you have it, enter the verification code and then click “Submit.”
- Hit “Continue” and you’re verified!
YouTube partner program: new level unlocked!
To unlock this level, you’ll need to collect the following achievements:
- 1,000 subscribers.
- At least 4,000 public watch hours in a 12-month period.
Though this sounds like a lot when you’re just starting out, it can accumulate surprisingly quickly if you’re regularly uploading quality content and sharing it on your social media channels.
Once you’ve hit these milestones, you don’t automatically jump into the partner program. Instead, you’ll need to follow these steps:
- From the YouTube Studio, click “Settings,” then “Channel,” and you’ll be back to the pop-up box we visited to add your keywords.
- This time, you’ll need to go to the “Feature eligibility” tab, then click on “Status and features.”
- A new tab will open up, detailing all your eligible features. You’re after the monetization box.
- Click “Enable” and then follow the prompts to apply for the YouTube Partner Program.
Once you’ve submitted your application, you can expect to wait at least a few weeks for it to be reviewed. To ensure you don’t face any setbacks, make sure you’ve definitely hit the benchmarks listed above before applying.
Creating a successful YouTube channel for your brand: final thoughts
In creating this step-by-step guide, our aim was to make the process of creating your own YouTube channel feel a little less overwhelming.
As you can see, there are a lot of steps to take, and plenty of features to get your head around. However, for the most part, the processes are straightforward and easy to follow.
The most challenging part will be the creation of your content. However, this will also be the most enjoyable and the most rewarding. Have fun with it, don’t be afraid to experiment, and be sure to check in with YouTube Analytics regularly to see how you’re tracking.
Do you have any questions regarding any of the steps listed in this article or YouTube in general? If so, please feel free to comment below and we’ll get back to you with the information you’re seeking.
Otherwise, we wish you all the best in your brand-building quest!